Prosody and its relationship to language in school-aged children with high-functioning autism

Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK.
International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders (Impact Factor: 1.47). 07/2009; 42(6):682-702. DOI: 10.1080/13682820601170102
Source: PubMed


Disordered expressive prosody is a widely reported characteristic of individuals with autism. Despite this, it has received little attention in the literature and the few studies that have addressed it have not described its relationship to other aspects of communication.
To determine the nature and relationship of expressive and receptive language, phonology, pragmatics, and non-verbal ability in school-aged children with high-functioning autism and to determine how prosody relates to these abilities and which aspects of prosody are most affected.
A total of 31 children with high-functioning autism and 72 typically developing children matched for verbal mental age completed a battery of speech, language, and non-verbal assessments and a procedure for assessing receptive and expressive prosody.
Language skills varied, but the majority of children with high-functioning autism had deficits in at least one aspect of language with expressive language most severely impaired. All of the children with high-functioning autism had difficulty with at least one aspect of prosody and prosodic ability correlated highly with expressive and receptive language. The children with high-functioning autism showed significantly poorer prosodic skills than the control group, even after adjusting for verbal mental age.
Investigating prosody and its relationship to language in autism is clinically important because expressive prosodic disorders add an additional social and communication barrier for these children and problems are often life-long even when other areas of language improve. Furthermore, a receptive prosodic impairment may have implications not only for understanding the many functions of prosody but also for general language comprehension.

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Available from: Fiona E Gibbon, Oct 05, 2015
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    • "However, communication deficits common to individuals with ASD include expressive and receptive language deficits, poor nonverbal (facial & gestural ) communication skills, and pragmatic deficits that manifest as sharing too much, not enough, or irrelevant information with communication partners. While these deficits represent an impediment to social interaction, such interactions are further reduced by deficits in understanding or responding to another's emotions in an appropriate way, and lack of affective prosody (prosodic features that convey emotions) (Baron-Cohen, Golan, Wheelwright, Granader, and Hill, 2010; Kern et al., 2013; McCann et al., 2007). Individuals with ASD may have difficulty assessing, processing, and producing emotional affect conveyed via voice, eyes, and accompanying facial expressions (Bal et al., 2010; Bauminger & Kasari 2000; Rutherford & McIntosh, 2007; Volker, Lopata, Smith & Thomeer, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Effective musical communication requires conveyance of the intended message in a manner perceptible to the receiver. Communication disorders that impair transmitting or decoding of structural features of music (e.g., pitch, timbre) and/or symbolic representation may result in atypical musical communication, which can have a negative impact on music therapy interventions. This study compared recognition of symbolic representation of emotions or movements in music by two groups of children with different communicative characteristics: severe to profound hearing loss (using cochlear implants [CI]) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Their responses were compared to those of children with typical-development and normal hearing (TD-NH). Accuracy was examined as a function of communicative status, emotional or movement category, and individual characteristics. Participants listened to recorded musical excerpts conveying emotions or movements and matched them with labels. Measures relevant to auditory and/or language function were also gathered. There was no significant difference between the ASD and TD-NH groups in identification of musical emotions or movements. However, the CI group was significantly less accurate than the other two groups in identification of both emotions and movements. Mixed effects logistic regression revealed different patterns of accuracy for specific emotions as a function of group. Conveyance of emotions or movements through music may be decoded differently by persons with different types of communication disorders. Because music is the primary therapeutic tool in music therapy sessions, clinicians should consider these differential abilities when selecting music for clinical interventions focusing on emotions or movement. © the American Music Therapy Association 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
    Journal of music therapy 02/2015; 52(1). DOI:10.1093/jmt/thu039 · 0.80 Impact Factor
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    • "" ), and affective intonation (e.g., motherese intonation, emotional prosody). Using the Profiling Elements of Prosodic Systems in Children (PEPS-C; Peppé and McCann 2003) to assess prosodic performance of individuals with ASD, some studies reported normal performance of individuals with ASD on certain tasks (e.g., turn-end, chunking, and focus tasks, Järvinen-Pasley et al. 2008a; McCann et al. 2007; Paul et al. 2005; Peppé et al. 2007), whereas other studies showed prosodic deficits in these individuals (Diehl and Paul 2013; Hesling et al. 2010). In particular, unlike TD controls, individuals with ASD demonstrate a clear bias towards judging the same intonation pairs as different and identifying question utterances as declarative (Järvinen-Pasley et al. 2008a; Peppé et al. 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Tone language experience benefits pitch processing in music and speech for typically developing individuals. No known studies have examined pitch processing in individuals with autism who speak a tone language. This study investigated discrimination and identification of melodic contour and speech intonation in a group of Mandarin-speaking individuals with high-functioning autism. Individuals with autism showed superior melodic contour identification but comparable contour discrimination relative to controls. In contrast, these individuals performed worse than controls on both discrimination and identification of speech intonation. These findings provide the first evidence for differential pitch processing in music and speech in tone language speakers with autism, suggesting that tone language experience may not compensate for speech intonation perception deficits in individuals with autism.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 01/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10803-015-2370-4 · 3.34 Impact Factor
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    • "Questi dati permettono di riflettere sia dal punto di vista teorico, sia in relazione all'applicabilità clinica delle prove proposte. Da un punto di vista teorico ci sembra possibile confermare i risultati di alcuni studi (Depape et al., 2012; McCann et al., 2007) che hanno rintracciato correlazioni significative tra abilità linguistiche formali e competenze prosodiche; rimane da capire se tali correlazioni (visibili nel nostro studio in relazione alle prove di genere/età e di tono emotivo) riflettono la presenza di abilità trasversali comuni tra linguaggio formale e prosodia o, piuttosto, la possibilità, da parte dei soggetti ASD Verbali, di affrontare meglio i compiti prosodici tramite l'intervento di strategie linguistiche (ad esempio, l'etichettamento lessicale da noi ipotizzato) rispetto ai soggetti averbali. Tale vantaggio verrebbe ad annullarsi nella prova di giudizio pragmatico, dove le strategie linguistiche di analisi del compito non permettono una risoluzione completa dello stesso. "
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    ABSTRACT: Presentiamo uno studio volto ad indagare le abilità di comprensione prosodica in bambini a sviluppo tipico e soggetti con disturbo dello spettro autistico (ASD). Le tre prove originali costruite hanno approfondito abilità prosodiche di differente livello: 1) un compito di riconoscimento di indicatori percettivo-sociali di base quali genere ed età del parlante, 2) una prova di individuazione del tono emotivo (ad esempio, felice, triste), 3) una prova di giudizio in relazione all'appropriatezza pragmatica di uno scambio comunicativo su base prosodica grammaticale (ad esempio, tono interrogativo, tono imperativo). Abbiamo proposto i tre compiti a soggetti a sviluppo tipico di differente età (4 vs. 8 anni) e soggetti con ASD con diverse competenze linguistiche (verbali vs. non verbali) ma equiparati per livello intellettivo non verbale. I risultati mostrano un pattern evolutivo nei soggetti a sviluppo tipico e prestazioni nei soggetti con ASD parzialmente interpretabili alla luce del profilo linguistico.
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